Hiking is a wonderful hobby and there is nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top of a mountain and survey the landscape around you – knowing that you made it there with your own two feet. It’s so enjoyable to wander through the quiet landscape with nothing but the rush of wind in the trees and the calls of the birds to keep you company.
However, a hike can turn from fun and pleasant to uncomfortable and downright dangerous if you are not prepared. If you don’t bring enough food with you, you will be hungry and weak while trying to climb your last few miles and if you don’t have adequate rain gear an unexpected deluge will leave you soaked and shivering. If you don’t have the right shoes or backpack, you can find yourself uncomfortable and in pain and if you don’t prepare your route with a map- you could get lost in the woods. This is why it is important to always plan ahead and prepare yourself before you go on a long distance hike.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to prepare yourself before you go on a long hike:
Get the Right Gear
Having the right outdoor gear with you on a hike will mean the different between being comfortable and dry and being cold, wet and miserable. You will need high quality hiking boots that fit you well and have good grips on their soles and comfortable, breathable clothing in multiple layers. Having several layers is advantageous, because you will be able to take them off or put them on depending on the weather. A backpack is important, so that you can carry all of your supplies. Also, you will need a jacket that is waterproof and windproof, in case the heavens open up on you while you are on the trail. Depending on whether or not you are sleeping over on the trail, you might also need a tent, cooking supplies, a shower bag and other equipment.
You can find all of the gear you need when shopping online. Many shops that specialise in outdoor gear will have sales on Boxing Day, so this is a great opportunity to buy everything you need at a really cheap price.
Bring Plenty of Food and Water
Hiking takes up a lot of energy, so you will need to bring food with you to replenish your strength while you are on the trail. Also, bringing water with you is important so that you can keep yourself hydrated. You can bring a water bottle with you, or invest in a hiking backpack that has a water pouch and a tube that you bring to your mouth to sip from the pouch.
Good choices for food to bring with you on the trail will be healthy items that will give you a lot of energy, such as nuts, dried fruit, sandwiches made with whole wheat bread, cereal bars, fresh fruit and vegetables and biscuits. Pack them well in sturdy containers, so that they don’t get crushed in your bag.
Make Sure You Know Where You Are Going
When you are going on a long hike, make sure that you always know your route and have a map to show you where you are going. Unfortunately, taking a wrong turn when you are out in the forest can be dangerous, because you can find yourself lost in the wilderness for a long time with no idea how to get home. Some hikers have even died or become seriously injured because they got lost in the wilderness, especially if they are exposed to the cold.
Luckily, there are plenty of resources available that will help you plan your hike. There are countless books with detailed maps published as well as hiking websites with maps online. Bringing a GPS with you can also help you find your way.
Make sure that you also tell someone where you are hiking to and when you expect to be back. If you don’t show up, they will be aware that you are missing and they will know where to start looking for you.
These are just a few important tips to keep in mind before you set off on a long hike through the wilderness. The more prepared you are for your journey, the more you will be able to enjoy it safely and comfortably, so have a great hike!
Ben Brown is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast. He just returned from a three day hiking trip through the mountains and is planning his next journey as soon as possible.
Photo Credits: Wikipedia